Entertaining Ideas, Part I: Lemon-Basil Vodka Spritzers (Paleo!)
I am so done with this cold. It’s April 7th, and yet somehow, there’s still snow in the forecast. I realize that we’ve gotten snowstorms over the years before as late as April, but to be honest, ayeye! It’s cold, I want to go get my herbs to plant this year, and here we are, still wearing Winter jackets. One of these days, it’ll be about 75 degrees and I’ll wonder what happened to Spring. Well, that dingus groundhog saw his shadow (or something) and really stuck it to us with our 6 more weeks of Winter. What he meant was actually 10 more weeks of Winter, with no Spring, right into Summer. But, I digress.
During those fleeting moments of good weather, I absolutely get the itch for Springtime parties and the like. Entertaining, friends coming over, dinner parties, my FAVORITE. Fortunately, I had some time yesterday, so a little playing around with some flavors was in the itinerary. Now, I don’t really ever drink liquor – I especially don’t drink vodka (personal choice)… however, I realize some of my friends like it a little now and again. I have a mystery handle of vodka sitting in my freezer, and I had a thought – what about a little Springtime aperitif? The herbs at the grocery store are so beautiful, why not… drink them, too? I love spices, flavoring anything, so putting herbs in your drinks is perfect (hello, Mojitos!). And there it was – my Lemon Basil Vodka spritzer. My spring cocktail was born.
This requires a little bit of patience, and a few kitchen (or bar) tools, but I promise it’s worth it. It’s refreshing, and you can omit the vodka and soda and just have a nice lemonade. One editor’s note…. I don’t actually know how much vodka one prefers in their drink… so…. add that at your discretion. In fact, i’ll preface this recipe with the fact that drink ratios are all about preference. If you like sweet lemonade, add more sweetener. If you like to taste your alcohol, add more. Change it up!
Actually, another editor’s note – if you have Celiac’s disease, be cautious of your vodka brand. Though it’s a distilled spirit and there technically should NOT be any gluten in your vodka, a wheat-based vodka may be made in a facility that is cross-contaminated with wheat products. If avoiding gluten as a major health concern, stick to brands that are derived from wheat-free foods, such as Ciroc (grapes), VuQo (coconuts), or Karlsson’s (potato). Other brands such as Absolut, Grey Goose, Stolichnaya, SKYY and Smirnoff are wheat-based, so be cautious if wheat is a concern.
Lemon-Basil Vodka Spritzer (Paleo..!?)
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 25-30 min
Makes about 2 quarts
- ~1/2 cup of honey or maple syrup (or sweetener of choice), plus more to taste if needed
- 1 cup firmly packed basil leaves
- 4 1/2 cups water, divided
- 1½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (6 to 8 lemons)
- 1 1/2 cup club soda (sodium-free, if possible)
- 6-8 shots of vodka….or more, or less, this is a guess
- In a medium sauce pan, muddle the basil with a tsp of water together with a wooden spoon, until the leaves are broken and bruised. Add 2 cups of water and sweetener, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until all of your sweetener has dissolved. Be careful not to bring your mix to a rolling boil, as you’ll burn off the basil flavor.
- Remove from the heat and allow the basil to steep in the syrup until cool – feel free to add any extra fresh basil if preferred. Once cooled, strain your mixture into a pitcher. Add 4 cups of water and the lemon juice, and stir well.
- Add your club soda, and continue to stir.
- To your preference, add your vodka – since this makes a pitcher, I’d add about a shot per drink serving, and since this will serve approximately 6-8 people, add 1 shot per person. Allow to cool completely before serving – serve over ice with a garnish of basil and lemon.